Mazen Khaddaj (b. 1985) is a multidisciplinary Lebanese artist working in painting, performance, video art, and installation. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design from the American University of Science and Technology in Beirut in 2008. His background includes working as an Art Director in multinational advertising companies for several years before eventually dedicating himself fully to the arts.
Mazen started his artistic journey in the medium of painting. He exhibited his first solo show ‘Bonds’ at Art Circle (Beirut) in 2013. Eventually, he would move into a more multidisciplinary approach, showcasing video performances in addition to paintings, such as his second solo show ‘The Middle State’ which was exhibited both at 392Rmeil393 Gallery (Gemmayze, Beirut) and at the University of Balamand Gallery (Lebanon) in 2015. These were followed by the exhibition ‘Emotion in Motion’ at Artspace Hamra (Beirut) in 2016 that featured ‘The Eye’, an installation project featuring five videos depicting the relationship between individuality and society. ‘The Eye’ is now part of the permanent collection of the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MACAM) in Alita, Byblos, Lebanon.
Mazen participated in an artist residency at the prestigious Pilotenkuche International Art Residency, in Leipzig, Germany, in 2015. This would lead him to eventually relocate to Germany in 2017, and this move would greatly impact his identity as an artist. He would also go on to enroll as a guest student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig, further adding to his education.
Mazen documented his struggle to ground himself in a new country through his project ‘I am a Foreigner’, showcasing several paintings and two video installations, which were first exhibited at GAPGAP in Leipzig in 2017 and then at WerkStadt, Berlin in 2020. Mazen proceeded with more solo shows including ‘I End to Begin’ at 392Rmeil393 Gallery, Beirut, in 2019, and ‘The Laundry Room’ at the Museum Der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig, also in 2019. Both shows investigated deeply the artist’s feelings towards his identity and his experiences as an immigrant. Further exploring these issues that same year, his installation ‘Spot The Foreigner’ was part of the Re-Orient Exhibition at the Grassi Museum, Leipzig. In January 2020, Khaddaj showcased ‘Lützner Street 7’, another solo show, at Albareh Art Gallery in Bahrain. In November 2020, Khaddaj participated in the Festival Kasseler Dokfest 37, Kassel, Germany, with a project titled ‘The Artists are Not Present’ which is a video installation. Shortly after, Khaddaj was awarded Honorable Mention for ‘The Artists are Not Present’ by the jury of the Golden Cube of the Kasseler Dokfest. Visible Thoughts was the title of his latest painting solo show that was exhibited in Kunst Kan gallery in Amsterdam.
Mazen has also participated in several collective shows, including in Lebanon, Bahrain, Turkey, and Germany. Mazen’s paintings are a play between textures and color, transparency and flatness. His work manifests human thought and interaction through figuration, which appears abstracted and dissipating, intersecting yet secluded. Subsequent video performances and installations are extensions of the work on canvas; what is inherent to still surfaces translates into mutable forms.
Mazen Khaddaj is currently living in Berlin, Germany, where he is practicing his art. He still has strong ties to the Middle East and continues to engage in artistic activities there.